April 18, 2024

Ryan Reynolds takes a stand on parenting, saying no to certain films for his kids. A peek into his selective movie choices.

For years, Ryan Reynolds has been one of Hollywood’s most reliable purveyors of charming, wisecracking humor. From his breakout role as the irreverent title character in 2002’s Van Wilder to his iconic turn as the meta-mugging mercenary Deadpool, Reynolds has carved out a niche as the sardonic funnyman whose movies are a guaranteed good time at the theater.

However, the actor’s filmography goes far beyond just safely crowd-pleasing comedies and superhero blockbusters. Over the course of his two-decade career, Reynolds has also proven himself more than willing to take on edgier, adult-oriented fare that pushes well past the boundaries of what’s considered family-friendly entertainment.

From brutal superhero action to claustrophobic psychological thrillers, these are three of Reynolds’ wildest forays into R-rated territory that are definitely not meant for kids. For mature audiences only, these films showcase a completely different side of the actor’s talents and an admirable willingness to take risks in service of bold, envelope-pushing material.

Deadpool (2016)

In many ways, Deadpool was the role that Ryan Reynolds was born to play. As the foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking mercenary Wade Wilson, he was finally able to unleash his full arsenal of meta-humor and manic comic energy without any filters or restrictions. The result was one of the most wildly entertaining and subversive superhero movies ever made.

From its very first frames, Deadpool makes it clear that this is not going to be your typical cape and tights adventure. The film’s opening credits sequence is underscored by the kind of gleefully profane humor and ultra-violence that instantly separates it from the more family-friendly Marvel and DC offerings.

And that’s before we even get to the main story, which finds Reynolds’ wise-cracking Wade Wilson undergoing a horrifically disfiguring experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing abilities…and a dark new purpose as the unstoppable anti-hero known as Deadpool.

What follows is a no-holds-barred action extravaganza that revels in its hard-R territory. Bloody beheadings, creative uses of profanity, irreverent pop culture references – it’s all there, filtered through the lens of Reynolds’ endlessly charismatic and mischievous screen presence.

Yet for all its shock value and winking naughtiness, Deadpool also has a surprisingly sweet (and very R-rated) love story at its core. The relationship between Wade and his fiancée Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is played with remarkable tenderness and intimacy, with the two actors sharing an easygoing chemistry that makes their raunchy banter and red-hot bedroom scenes feel authentic and lived-in.

It’s that perfect balance of heart and raunch that made Deadpool such a breath of fresh air for comic book movie fans. Finally, here was a superhero flick that didn’t pull any punches or pander to the lowest common denominator. It was a slick, self-aware, and utterly unpredictable thrill ride that took full advantage of its R-rating to deliver something new and wildly entertaining.

Of course, none of it would have worked without Reynolds’ full-throttle lead performance. Delivering a masterclass in rapid-fire sarcasm and physical comedy, he fully embodied the role he had been campaigning to play for over a decade. It was a true labor of love that paid off in spectacular fashion, instantly making Deadpool an iconic character and cementing Reynolds’ status as a bonafide movie star with the clout to take big creative gambles.

Blade: Trinity (2004)

Long before he was suiting up as Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds was cutting his teeth in the superhero realm with a supporting role in 2004’s Blade: Trinity. As the wisecracking vampire hunter Hannibal King, he brought his trademark irreverent humor to the third and final installment of the Blade film series.

From the moment he swaggers into frame, Reynolds’ Hannibal King makes an immediate impression. Decked out in a black trenchcoat and shades, he’s the epitome of a smart-alecky badass who’s more than happy to let his mouth run as freely as his stakes fly. It’s a performance that feels like a precursor to the actor’s later work, showcasing his knack for playing the roguish hero with a never-ending supply of quippy one-liners.

Not that Blade: Trinity is all fun and games, of course. Directed by David Goyer, the film is very much a product of early 2000s edginess, leaning heavily into the kind of hyper-stylized action and gothic horror imagery that defined the era. From the opening bloodbath to the movie’s climactic battle against a truly grotesque vampire dragon monster, it’s a no-holds-barred R-rated spectacle that doesn’t shy away from scenes of intense, bone-crunching violence.

For Reynolds, it’s a role that allows him to flex his action hero muscles in a way that few of his other pre-Deadpool roles did. In one particularly memorable sequence, Hannibal King takes on a horde of vampires in a brutal hand-to-hand battle that sees the actor performing his own stunts and fight choreography with impressive skill and commitment.

It’s also just a flat-out fun performance from Reynolds, one that showcases his ability to shine as the wisecracking scene-stealer even when surrounded by more established action stars like Wesley Snipes and Jessica Biel. With his roguish charisma and devil-may-care attitude, Hannibal King immediately stands out as the kind of character you can’t take your eyes off of, even when the movie itself gets a bit too bogged down in self-serious mythology and convoluted plotting.

While Blade: Trinity was ultimately a commercial and critical disappointment that helped put the film franchise on ice for over a decade, it did give mainstream audiences one of their first extended looks at Ryan Reynolds’ potential as a leading man with the right mix of humor, swagger, and physicality. For genre fans and Reynolds aficionados, it’s an underrated gem that showed he was more than capable of holding his own in the world of R-rated action well before Deadpool came along.

Buried (2010)

If Deadpool showcased Ryan Reynolds at his most gloriously unhinged and Blade: Trinity highlighted his flair for badass irreverence, then 2010’s Buried allowed him to demonstrate an entirely different side of his acting skills – his ability to carry an entire film through sheer force of emotional intensity and committed performance.

A claustrophobic psychological thriller directed by Rodrigo Cortés, Buried is a cinematic high-wire act that takes place entirely within the confines of a single location – a wooden coffin buried underneath the desert sand. Reynolds stars as Paul Conroy, an American contractor working in Iraq who finds himself trapped in this nightmarish scenario after being attacked and kidnapped by unknown assailants.

With only a lighter, a cell phone, and a few scattered personal items to aid him, Paul must race against time to figure out who took him, why they’ve buried him alive, and how to possibly escape before his oxygen runs out and he’s left to die in the most horrific way imaginable.

From its unnerving opening frames to its haunting final moments, Buried is a masterclass in sustained tension and claustrophobic dread. With no other actors to play off of and no change of scenery to break the tension, Reynolds is utterly alone on screen, forced to carry the entire emotional weight of the film squarely on his shoulders.

It’s a monumental acting challenge, one that would push even the most seasoned thespian to their limits. Yet Reynolds rises to the occasion with a performance that is nothing short of astounding in its raw vulnerability and psychological authenticity.

Over the course of the film’s brisk 90-minute runtime, we see him cycle through the entire gamut of human emotion – fear, anger, despair, determination, and ultimately a weary acceptance of his seemingly inescapable fate. It’s a true tour-de-force turn that showcases the full range of Reynolds’ dramatic abilities while also reminding audiences that he’s so much more than just a glib comedian or action hero.

Buried’s impact is only heightened by its stark, minimalist approach to filmmaking. With no cuts away and no chance for the character to escape his literal and metaphorical confinement, the entire movie unfolds in a series of unbroken takes that put Reynolds’ physical and emotional stamina to the ultimate test.

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